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The topic is "Flying below 3000ft".
Yesterday in Ft Lauderdale Fl two airplanes midair'd off the shoreline. Head on,one flying north one flying south. I live and fly in this area. Since I started flying, I always wondered how pilots would choose an altitude to fly VFR. Above 3000ft there is no problem because that airspace is regulated. Below is something akin to a free-for-all.
Whenever I would ask an instructor or a pilot their thought process on determining an altitude to fly
below 3000ft, I never received an answer that I felt I could use that had any practical applications in the real world.
I did read somewhere about helicopter pilots over the Gulf of Mexico that agreed among themselves that when flying below 3000ft they would adhere to specific altitudes.
This makes sense to me. However how would this be implemented? Nobody wants more FAR's. In addition the Feds really don't seem too concerned about the little VFR guys. So as a group how do you think we should handle this.
For myself, I think I'll fly those altitudes I mentioned. And keep my eyes open.
One suggestion - don't fly at a "cardinal" altitude. That is, don't fly at 2,500 - use 2,400 or 2,700, etc. This was suggested to me by a DPE in Chicago when were discussing the VFR flyways under the Class Bravo shelf along Lake Michigan in Chicago. The most important thing to do, is keep your head outside and get flight following whenever possible.
Bob, if you keep this up you're really gonna annoy the folks out there who think they've got to watch the instruments. Langewiche would understand your comment, but I'm not sure The Administrator would.
The very suggestion that a functioning pair of uncaged eyeballs may be the most effective safety device in the cockpit seems anathema to some.
I say again: THERE'S NOTHING IN HERE YOU CAN HIT !!
I don't think anyone would be annoyed by that one, as long as airspace and obstacle clearance requirements are observed.
''Course not. I wrote that with tongue firmly planted in my cheek, computerally speaking.
One of the problems with these forums is that one can't here the inflection in someone's typing. I figured you were kidding around and I answered in a gruff, amused voice. You just couldn't hear it.
I had my speaker muted.....:~)
See what I mean.
Some things that may help avoid midairs are keeping the landing light on, installing a traffic proximity detector, making sure your transponder and mode C are on and working well, knowing and listening to any relevant radio frequencies, requesting flight following, flying unusual altitudes like 2200 or 2700, painting the airplane blaze orange (mine's sky blue, dammit), making frequent, slight changes of heading (so you'll be easier to spot and have a better chance to see anything coming right at you), avoiding scud running, and sticking to legal or greater cloud clearances.
The last one is very important, even under 3000. On a recent IFR flight I was at 13,000 feet, and just about 100 feet above a broken layer of cumulus cloud tops when ATC informed me that a VFR pilot, not in contact with ATC, was coming at me head on, climbing into my altitude. I told ATC he had to be illegal, since there was a broken layer right under me, and they said they were not in contact with him, nor could they identify him. I requested a vector and got it when he was within 1 NM of me and within 100 feet or so of altitude. Assuming a closure rate of about 300 knots ( I was in my Mooney 231), we would have impacted in about 10 sec. In fact, I NEVER saw this guy, nor I assume did he see me. His flouting of VFR could easily have killed us all that day. I will never again choose an IFR altitude that puts me so close to clouds that I can easily fly over or under, especially broken or scattered clouds. In the latter cases, I will use the VFR minimums or greater.
I agree with everything Craig's said. The scariest one for me recently was back in February when a student of mine and I were doing the NDB 17 approach (yes, for all of you modernists, an NDB approach) into Alton Regional in actual. The ceilings were about 1,700 as I recall. Just as we were about to break out, the controller told us "Traffic, primary only, less than a mile, 12 o'clock, northbound, less than a mile!" My first thought was that it was one of the ARCH (local medivac) choppers that might have just lifted off and the transponder hadn't warmed-up yet, which isn't uncommon around here. In actuality it was a J3 Cub just below the ceiling and north of the Alton class Delta, but near our final approach course. Was he 500 below the clouds? I honestly don't know, since I didn't notice the altitude at which we broke out. Did he look bigger in our windscreen than I like? You betcha! I don't think he ever saw us, even though we were running with lights and strobes.
I use that one to impress upon my VFR students the importance of those magenta lines...
Hey, guys --
Just something to think about from "the good old days". Years ago, hauling indians and dogfood into the village from Tok Junction Alaska, we had a spell of below-ILS-minimums weather.
But we couldn't stop operations. We and our competition (40 Mile Air, a fine bunch of aviators and solid citizens) continued to operate regularly, routinely, back and forth between Tok and Tetlin. We had to. The indians couldn't get in or out without us, and there was a potlach going on, and ....
For about 6 weeks it was 100 and 1, 100 and 1/2, or thereabouts, in freezing drizzle. Sometimes I'd not be able to see the other end of 2510'Runway 7 when I rolled out for the TO. Nosedown & flaps up immediately after liftoff (any higher you're in the clouds), hold a heading of 090 until reaching the Tanana River. Stay on it, follow it around the hill till its confluence with the Tetlin River. Stay on the Tetlin until you get to 5TE. It's right off your right wing, too close for a landing. Throttle back while rolling into a 270 Left, drop the flaps, roll out inline with the runway, drag it over the mud puddle 300'up the approach end, then chop power, dump flaps, stomp brakes.
While the indians are deplaning, go around the airplane with a squirt bottle of HEET to deice.
Coming back stay on the Tanana until reaching the Alcan, then west on the south side of the highway (there's a huge LORAN station on the north side).
Our indian-owned operation had 2 pilots flying; 40Mile had half a dozen. While using the two rivers kinda like the centerline of a highway (stay just to the right), We kept each other apprised of our location at all times.
"Charlie Fox is at the confluence for Tetlin, 100 feet."
"15Q just turned left Xwind. I'll stay east of the river, Jim."
"OK Richard, I'll stay between the river and the hill."
You won't find that procedure in the AIM, but we never had any midairs.
Jim, you never cease to amaze me! I'd die of a heart attack doing that kind of flying. But you're right, we could use the radio a hell of a lot better than we do to let each other know we're there. But who knows what frequency to use for that? Suppose I'm flying up the beach, or a couple miles offshore, sightseeing and want to avoid hitting someone else doing the same thing in the opposite direction. It would be nice to have a common frequency for this which was the same frequency anywhere in the country, kind of like 122.0 for flight watch anywhere they can hear you.
Hi, Craig --
It wasn't actually as bad as it sounds. When it was CAVU we knew the weather was coming and trained for it. Knew every bend in the rivers, which rivers we followed (The old IFR = I Follow Rivers is no joke there: rivers don't go uphill).
When the weather went down I annoyed my boss by putting my Jep book under my seat and filling the right tank, rather than sticking it to 15 gallons as usual, so if the weather got really bad I could climb out and file IFR for FAI or ORT (assuming the ice didn't bring me down before I got there).
The trip to 6K8 to 5TE was only 19 NM (38 NM RT), so we kept 5 gallons in the L tank, at every turnaround put 15 gal in the right tank. That's what we flew. Full tanks in a 206 or 207 is too much weight to bring into and haul out of Tetlin, especially if you have any big Indians on board. If it's just Granma Kitty, wouldn't matter...
The scratches on the belly of N40CF is where a grizzly reached up and grabbed for me one day.... :~)
Rivers may not go uphill, but just about all of them go downhill.....
Just make sure the river you're following stays the same distance below your wings all the time and you'll be alright. Until you find out that it came from a waterfall :)
But like you said, it's all about knowing where you are and where you're going.
ps... Bad Yogi
today,on my game i practiced landing up more than 3000 feet and somtimes i would have to adjust the jet is it just like real life?
The Altimeter-Compass Cruising Altitude Rule (ACCAR) eliminates head-on collisions at all altitudes by 500 ft, and all 90 degree crossing altitudes by 250 ft. All discrete altitude cruising strategies, whether cardinal altitudes or hemispherical cruising altitudes are extremely dangerous compared to random altitude cruising because random altitude cruising has a far lower target density.
The only trouble is that ACCAR is only legal below 3000 ft AGL. Above the hemispherical cruising altitude rules are the law, even though following them is guaranteed to maximize your midair collision probability, as proven by me with
and NASA Ames Research Facility with
To fix this problem, I've requested a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to do away with the hemispherical cruising altitude rules of 91.159 and 91.179, and replace them with ACCAR. See the request for the NPRM at
r_p~a_t~l_a~n_y@_r~o_c~k_e~t_m~a_i~l.c_o~m (remove underscores and tildes)
"Mid-air collisions are a greater aviation safety threat in general aviation. In the years 1983 through 1985, 237 mid-air collisions occured in the US. Most of them occured in general aviation and in the traffic pattern at uncontrolled airports."
Human Factors In Multi-Crew Flight Operations Harry W. Orlady, Linda M. Orlady.
This book has many sources of information on accidents, and this is just something that I happened to read tonight in my assignment. I know though that most mid-airs do occur in or near the airport and deal with changes of altitude and turns with respect to landing, taking off, flying or entering the pattern. It is not an issue of head-on collisions.
And I have had a plane come at me head-on. A few years back when I was getting my private I was on a solo and guess what? It was a plane leaving the pattern, climbing. It wasn't some plane just cruising along at the same altitude.
While I do not doubt that there might be something that could be done to make cruising-flight a little safer, I doubt the suggestion above would have any measurable outcome on saftey and mid-air collisions. It may be a good thing to do to try and minimize all potential risks, but as far as having an effect on GA I severly doubt it.
Here are a few consistent results I presented at a NEXTOR conference last year ("Current Analysis of Hazard Factors in U.S. Civil Aviation Midair Collisions, 1991-2000") based on my review of every midair collision in NTSB files for that period:
On average, there were about 16 midairs (32 aircraft) per year
88% of midairs involved one or both aircraft maneuvering (heading or alt)
76% involved an airport being immediately approached or departed or both
69% involved BOTH aircraft maneuvering
59% were in the traffic pattern
33% involved broken/overcast sky conditions
In the pattern: the head-tail collision on final was most frequent (41/89), 59% occurred on final or over the runway, 27% involved failure to use the radio, 22% involved failure to follow AIM or FAR procedures, and 18% involved ATC error.
Using converging arrows to represent the velocities (speed and direction) of the converging aircraft, I showed several ways that differential speeds (one arrow longer than the other) create situations where "see and avoid" is physically impossible, e.g., when climbing or descending in or out of the pattern.
The only real solution to this risk is electronic sensing and alerting.
Here is the address to an analysis of the Florida accident.
The Altimeter-Compass Cruising Altitude Rule (ACCAR) works to prevent such collision at all altitudes. It is only currently legal at less than 3000 ft AGL. For the FAA submittal to make ACCAR legal at all altitudes, see the request for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at:
r~p~a~t~l~o~v~a~n~y@r~o~c~k~e~t~m~a~i`l.c~o~m (take out the tildes)
Here is a case where flight following and looking out the window just could not be made to work.
One aircraft had an inoperative altitude encoder. ATC gave a warning of "12 o'clock level traffic at one mile" so late that shredded aluminum was falling before the ATC guy quit talking. The pilots looking out the window had less than five seconds of visible time to see the 340-knot closing image. The Altimeter-Compass Cruising Altitdue Rule (ACCAR) could have saved the day with over 400 feet of clearance. See the request for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at:
These helicopter pilots could have been saved with ACCAR, for a total of 23 lives lost unnecessarily for lack of using a 70-year-old technique for minimizing midair collision paths:
Yesterday I observed, and reported, a near midair collision involving my plane, on an IFR flight plan in contact with Potomac Approach, and a VFR plane. We converged head on, but missed each other vertically by about 200 feet. I was about 5 miles west of HEF, on an extended right base for 16L, descending per Potomac Approach instructions from 3000 to 2000, passing through about 2300. Potomac Approach (PA) had just cleared me for the visual approach and told me to go to the tower when he added "VFR traffic 12 O'clock, altitude unknown....he just popped up at 2000." Well, that got my attention, so I leveled out at about 2250, and asked "I need to deviate, which direction do you suggest?" PA replied: "north". I banked and immediately the plane passed right underneath us - I NEVER saw it (haze made visibility no better than about 3 miles), but my passenger saw it pass directly beneath us. The VFR traffic had just departed, I learned, the field I was inbound to. My bank was irrelevant, but the last second ATC warning and the consequent extra couple hundred feet of altitude (2250 vs. 2000) saved our bacon. This near-midair pattern was uncannily familiar-at least one plane maneuvering (me, descending) if not both (was he climbing?), near an airport (4-6 miles out - no more), one approaching it, the other departing it, and at least one of us talking to ATC. Whew!
Ah yes, the fun world if IFR traffic avoidence...
I'm probably never going to forget the "close calls" I had when I got my rating. It will become "interesting" in a month or so when I get my CFII as well....
I feel a lot "safer" in clouds sometimes...of course you never know what may be in a cloud...but at least you'll never see it comming
I know what you mean. I've actually heard a VFR pilot say "If I turn off the mode C on my transponder, they can't catch me." Gives me all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings...
On further reflection about what I and others might have done differently to avoid the near miss:
1. The HEF tower shouldn't have allowed departing VFR traffic to exit out the same corridor that incoming traffic are using at that time. Since 16L and 16R were in use, there was a clockwise pattern flow on the west side of the field. One would think that departing traffic would exit from the south, with incoming traffic to the north, thus avoiding conflicts. But not that time.
2. The Potomac Approach controller should have been paying more attention to the potential conflict, both warning me and vectoring me away from the VFR traffic, assuming he saw it on radar, which they usually do by about 1000 feet at this airport, which also, by the way, requires a transponder squawk code due to the DC ADIZ. A Potomac Approach controller should have known the approximate altitude of the VFR traffic, since if it had been higher it would have been in IAD class B airspace controlled by Potomac.
3. I should have done two things instantly. First, on hearing VFR traffic 12 oclock, I should have banked first and then told the controller about it. Second, I should have aborted the descent and initiated an immediate climb, also telling the controller about it after doing it.
4. I strongly support a slight change in rules requiring that every aircraft, including ultralights or whatever, be equipped with a modern system to transmit it's N number, 3-D coordinates, and current track and speed, to every other aircraft along with ATC - AND that the system be required to operate autonomously whenever the aircraft engine is running, without the capacity to override and turn off the system (perhaps unless there is an electrical fire on board - but how often does that happen?).
The "see and avoid" concept is an anachronism from the time when a few slow aircraft wandered the skys. "See and avoid" is a dangerous and foolish principle whose modern function is primarily to remove legal and ethical responsibility for air traffic control from FAA and Controller shoulders.
It's time to implement a system that handles "see and avoid" automatically, while truly enhancing national security by forcing every pilot to identify himself (at least his plane) and his actions while in flight. Those who have something to hide have no xxxx business up there.
I almost agree with you - EXCEPT!!! It will always be our responsibility to look out the window for other traffic. We as pilots should accept and embrace that. Not that mandatory transponders aren't a bad idea. To quote the line from "Support Your Local Sherriff", "Not that any help wouldn't be cheerfully accepted."
As to your other points, I tell all of my students that, if they have any inclination that there's a traffic conflict, do what you gotta do and then sort it out with the controller. I'd rather be in the FSDO having a cup of coffee with the inspector dicussing a deviation than have the inspector out visiting the wreckage of my airplane.
RV - Agreed. Besides, if you're not looking, you might not see a flock of Canada geese or a balloon or something. I've deviated for birds more than once and once, on an extra hot summer day approaching Dallas TX at about 3000, I flew right by a plastic grocery bag floating along at my quite bumpy altitude. Now I could tell ya it had a gallon of milk in it, it being Texas, but in reality, it was just full of hot air.
Yeah, I've seen some strange balloons and other stuff up as high as 8500, stuff that you wouldn't want to hit for sure!
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